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LOVENSKIOLD, PERRY GRAY

Perry Gray Lovenskiold (1867–1963).
Perry G. Lovenskiold served as mayor of Corpus Christi from 1921 to 1931. Courtesy Corpus Christi Public Libraries Digital Archives and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

LOVENSKIOLD, PERRY GRAY (1867–1963). Perry Gray Lovenskiold, mayor, railroad engineer, and dentist in Corpus Christi, was born in Corpus Christi on November 25, 1867. He was the youngest male child of Col. Charles G. T. Lovenskiold and Sophia Foley (Clark) Lovenskiold. He had three brothers and three sisters (Oscar, Lee, Fred, Alice, Emily, Adelaide). His father Charles had first come to Corpus in the 1850s and was a practicing attorney in Corpus and South Texas in the post-Civil War period until his death in 1875.

Perry Lovenskiold’s first career was as a railroad engineer; unfortunately this was abruptly terminated due to injuries sustained in a train wreck. He then moved to New Orleans to attend Tulane University and successfully studied to become a dentist. After graduating, he opened a dental practice for two years in New Orleans. In 1905 he returned to Corpus Christi and opened a practice that lasted for fifty years until his retirement in 1955. He was married three times. His first wife, Sarah died shortly after their marriage. On April 11, 1901, Lovenskiold married his second wife, Magdalena L. Schubert, who worked as a nurse in New Orleans when they first met. They had two daughters, Anita and Katherine. After Magdalena’s death in 1934, he married Margaret Dickey on August 27, 1935. 

Perry Lovenskiold’s political career in Corpus Christi began when he served on the Port Board and Planning Commission under Mayor Gordon Boone after the 1919 hurricane had severely damaged the city. Lovenskiold became mayor in 1921 and served consecutive terms until 1931. He spoke fluent Spanish and resided at 813 N. Carrizo Street in the downtown area behind the bluff. Previously, his older brother Oscar had served as mayor of Corpus during the 1890s. Following the 1919 storm, with the population diminished, massive parts of the city destroyed, delinquent taxes written off, and only a trickle of current tax revenue to draw from, Lovenskiold became an effective advocate of rebuilding Corpus Christi and broadening its economic base through industrialization. Corpus’s population increased during his tenure in the 1920s from just over 10,500 at the beginning of the decade to more than 27,000 when he retired from public office in 1931. 

During Lovenskiold’s administrations the city began construction of the bayfront breakwaters, passed a $50,000 bond issue to build and open the Corpus Christi Airport, and laid miles of paved roads. He strongly promoted the creation of a city water reservoir system which came to fruition with the completion of the La Fruta Dam on the Nueces River in 1929. The 64,000-acre-foot reservoir created by the dam was named Lake Lovenskiold. Unfortunately, the dam collapsed on November 23, 1930. In addition, the Bascule Bridge was put into operation allowing larger commercial ships to enter the Corpus Christi port. He also successfully promoted the widening of the port turning basin and the deepening of the bay channel. Lovenskiold was a close collaborator and friend with city leaders such as Roy Miller, Will Shely, R. J. Kleberg, and Robert Driscoll. He still practiced dentistry while mayor. 

Upon leaving office, he went back to practicing dentistry full-time from his office in the Gugenheim-Cohn Building. He retired in 1955. His wife Margaret Dickey Lovenskiold, died in 1960. Perry G. Lovenskiold died on June 20, 1963, at the age of ninety-five. Lovenskiold Park on Antelope and Brownlee streets is named in his honor. The Lovenskiold Building downtown at 601 Mesquite Street was owned by him. At the time of his death he was the oldest living former mayor of Corpus Christi. A funeral Mass was held for him at Corpus Christi Cathedral. He was buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 27, 1959; September 26, 2006. Corpus Christi Times, June 20, 21, 1963. Dallas Morning News, June 21, 1963. Mary Jo O’Rear, Bulwark Against the Bay: The People of Corpus Christi and Their Seawall (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2017).

Patrick Judd

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Handbook of Texas Online, Patrick Judd, "Lovenskiold, Perry Gray ," accessed October 17, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flo57.

Uploaded on April 11, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.